But even then popular opinion was ready to believe in the possibility of any dark deed being sanctioned by the Duke of Cumberland. Even those who were not alarmists, and were not disposed to exaggerate the demerits of the Duke of Cumberland, kept asking what was to happen if on the King's death he were to betake himself to his kingdom of Hanover, and try to organise conspiracies there. Every one knows how hated in England became the very name of Hanover during the reigns of George I. and II.; how the people believed that every English interest was sacrificed by the Sovereign's love for his Hanoverian crown, and how jealous and impatient public opinion had become in these countries. There were, indeed, not a few who would have been well contented if the Duke of Cumberland, on succeeding to the Hanoverian throne, were to go to Hanover and stay there, and never bestow a thought upon England any more. This, however, was exactly what most people believed that the Duke of Cumberland would never do. The common belief was that he would make of Hanover a convenient retreat for the organisation of conspiracy against the child-sovereign of England. People looked forward, therefore, with gloomy forebodings to the dangers that might be threatened if the King were to die, and the Duke of Cumberland, no Regent being named, were to succeed at once to the Crown of Hanover and the guardianship of the Princess Victoria. The first disappointment which King William gave to his people was by the omission in his Royal message of any allusion to the appointment of a Regent.
On the 30th of July, Lord Grey in the House of Lords, and Lord Althorp in the House of Commons, moved for the delay of a day in replying to the Royal message. The motive of the delay was perfectly well understood; it was simply in order to give time for the consideration of the course which ought to be taken with regard to the Royal message if the King should not in the meantime make any suggestion as to the appointment of a Regent. The Duke of Wellington, on behalf of the Government, refused to agree to any proposal for delay, and although several Tory Peers, including the indomitable Lord Eldon himself, voted in favour of Lord Grey's motion, the Ministers carried with them a majority of forty-four in the House of Lords, and of forty-six in the House of Commons. The debate in the House of Commons deserves notice, if only for the passion which Henry Brougham threw into it, and the extraordinary demeanour of the House itself. Brougham, of course, supported the Liberal policy in the House of Commons, and his language was certainly well calculated to provoke a scene in an excitable assembly. Somebody interrupted Brougham with a peculiar cry which was undoubtedly meant for an imitation of the utterance of one of the lower animals, on which Brougham observed that by a wonderful disposition of Nature every animal had its peculiar mode of expressing itself, and he was too much of a philosopher to quarrel with any of those modes. Under the circumstances, Brougham may be said to have dealt good-humouredly enough with the interruption. O'Connell, at a day a little later, met with some peculiarly clamorous interruptions from a great number of voices, whereupon, in tones of thunder, he called upon the owners of the voices to "silence their beastly bellowing."
The Speaker ruled that O'Connell was out of order in using the word "beastly," whereupon O'Connell blandly declared that in deference to the Speaker he withdrew the adjective, but he added, "I never heard or read of any bellowing which was not beastly." Brougham's speech on the occasion to which we are particularly referring was met by many such interruptions, and in that debate, as in most debates in the House of Commons, when passion is at all aroused, men indulged themselves in any form of interruption which suited their tastes or their lungs. One Honourable Member, perhaps, had the gift of imitating the bellowing of a bull; another preferred to bleat like a sheep; a third reproduced with full artistic effect the noise of a crowing cock; a fourth mewed like a cat; and so on, with imitations of the whole animal kingdom, among which even the mellifluous, and probably in certain instances most appropriate, voice of the donkey sounded in the ears of those who cared to listen. Some of the descriptions given to us by men who were present during certain of these noisy scenes, would seem hardly credible to many who even now think the House of Commons a rather uproarious and disorderly assembly. All this, it should be observed, took place at a time when Parliament was still unreformed, when the vulgar herd had no power to vote for the election of a member of the House of Commons, and when one of the great arguments against Reform was that it would flood that House with uneducated and noisy persons. Brougham certainly, sometimes, gave an excuse for angry interruptions. In the course of his speech, to which we have been referring, he made a vehement attack on Sir Robert Feel and the other Ministers present. He had been complaining of the policy of the Duke of Wellington, and he suddenly said, looking fixedly at Peel: "Him I accuse not. It is you I accuse - his flatterers - his mean, fawning parasites." The House of Commons in our day is noisy enough sometimes, and rude enough in its personal attacks, but such words as these would be impossible there now.
England lost about this time a remarkable man on a most remarkable occasion. The death of such a man must always have a deep personal and historical interest; but the occasion which indirectly led to that death was an event of the highest importance to England and to civilisation. It was the opening of the first railway of any length completed in this country. There was a great ceremonial on the 15th of September, 1830, in honour of the opening of the line from Liverpool to Manchester. The Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, and many other men took part in the ceremony, which was to have been followed by a great public dinner at Manchester. Mr. Huskisson was one of those who attended. He had been paying a visit to his constituents in Liverpool, and, although in very feeble health, he had made up his mind to be present on the memorable occasion of the opening of this first completed railway. Before the train left Liverpool the railway authorities requested the company to keep their places in the carriages until the train reached its destination, and a printed handbill, setting forth the request, was passed along among the travellers. It seems almost unnecessary to say that the request and caution were of no avail. The train stopped at a wayside station a few miles down the line, and several of the company immediately got out and indulged their curiosity by walking up and down and inspecting the outside of the carriages. Unluckily, a friend of the Duke of Wellington and of Huskisson was seized with the idea that this would be a propitious moment to bring the two men together and get them to shake hands. The idea spread abroad, and both the Duke and Huskisson were quite willing to take this opportunity of renewing their former friendship.